It is not only smiling for the camera that makes photos important to us but also—photography is a means to earn a living. The industry has drawn over $77.66 billion market value in 2015 and is expected to reach $110.79 billion by 2021, according to Zion Market Research.
With less than 200 years since its inception, photography is the real example of a technological breakthrough, from using crude processes of using chemicals to simpler processes, taking less than one minute, where instant high-quality photos can be taken via our handheld gadgets— our smartphones.
The photography industry has evolved remarkably over the years, sweeping away some jobs along other blunt lines of the industry, such as photo processing workers, film lab technicians and photography equipment repairers, who are now replaced by more robust and efficient digital technology processes.
Photography as the activity or job of taking photographs or filming is practised in many forms. With the unfettered access to data and research and development, it is not only about taking photos or filming via professional camera equipment but also via mobile phones.
Modern mobile phones are now chasing behind “Nikon”, and “Canon” camera designs, spicing up competition in the industry, and Hollywood is validating that by accepting and screening movies shot with an iPhone.
On a global scale, the UK and the US happen to have strong activities, with their industries generating over $2 billion in the UK and $ 10 billion in the US according to IBIS World statistics, an industry market research firm.
On the other hand, a report by Market Watch a financial and business news publication, the global digital photography market was $79 billion in 2018 and is expected to reach $131 billion by the end of 2025, growing at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 6.4 per cent between 2019 and 2025.
However, the industry is healthier as numerous contributors get to play various roles in enhancing its performance.This incorporates the chain value of the industry usually made of manufacturers, suppliers, distributors, intermediaries, and customers.
The industry is also stimulated by the growing demand for high-end output which ultimately triggered the production of auxiliary items, split into sub-markets: photo processing equipment, interchangeable lenses, and camera cell phones and so on.
In Africa, the photography industry is the new employment line, drawing large swathes of talents, primarily young people who develop unique tastes for photography. Kenya, South Africa, Ghana, Egypt, and Tanzania are examples
Kenya, East Africa’s vibrant economy is one of the region’s photography industry success stories, via David Macharia, a professional photographer, who was commissioned by the White House and shot iconic photos featuring former US President Barack Obama, in 2015.
Since then, he has engraved his mark in helping transform the photography landscape via his mentorship programmes in Kenya and across other countries including South Africa.
Also, his school of photography (Versatile School Photography) has won Kenya Wedding Industry Awards as the best photography school in East Africa.
There are relatively low barriers to entry in the industry in Africa, as the majority of photography businesses are small and owner-operated.
In most cases in Tanzania, vibrant photographers usually work from home-office settings, where customized studios are set. However proper studio setups are considered an advantage for operators who have high investment strength.
Over time technological advancements have made it easy for new entrants to keep up and stimulate the industry particularly in East Africa where-commerce sites such as eBay and Amazon, offer direct access for photographers to purchase used-camera equipment at a modest price.
Nonetheless, the industry is faced with a high level of competition and this is expected to increase, due to the unprecedented growth and advancement of gadgets such as mobile phones and tablet computers, which encourage consumers to take their own photographs instead of relying on professional photographers.
However, the ongoing emergence of high-quality images with fascinating colours and composition still builds the sector and keeps the competition healthy. Despite the competition, it is crucial for operators to establish a good reputation and build a loyal customer-base for success.
Modern technology has breathed life into many forms of photography made possible via endless-access of techniques and ideas from online tutorials. At present across African countries, especially in Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, South Africa, and Nigeria, different kinds of photography offer employment for youth.
Africa’s photography landscape is categorized in weddings, products, fashion, events, portraits, fine art, architectural, travel, wildlife, advertising, lifestyle and sports.
Across East Africa, Nigeria and South Africa, where social media platforms have integrated into the lives of consumers and are stimulating the consumption of photos not only for personal interests but also—companies and advertising agencies score a lot of traction interacting with their base easily and effectively.
“Digital photography is expected to witness rapid growth during the forecast period due to the growth of advanced social networking sites and photo-sharing sites such as Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and tumbler. Applications and services such as photo editor and Adobe Photoshop are surging the demand of the digital photography market because digital images can be easily displayed, printed, stored and edited. Digital photography allows consumers to take professional quality photos themselves,” Zion Market Research report reads.
Africa stands to benefit hugely from the industry due to the fact the continent’s rich culture and lifestyle experience are yet to be digitally documented via images/videos. Images tell stories, evoke emotion, educate and inspire people to take action.
For instance, the famous photo of Kevin Carter’s “Starving child and Vulture” which sparked a lot of controversy on how war and hunger devastated Sudan or the Pulitzer Prize-Winning photo of Eddie Adam’s “Saigon Execution” featuring a soldier executing a prisoner—all these photos are iconic and helped bring resolution to saddening and hurting scenarios in history.
This means Africa can mark its place in history via exposing its magnificent and rich life experience, which draws in tourism, investment and strike collaboration. In our modern world where social media interconnects people in an instant, photography is an essential tool in levitating Africa’s beauty.
The steady growth of local-camera-gear vendors, auxiliary photograph-enhancing software such as Adobe Photoshop, and local photography training schools in the region clearly amplify the potential and growth of the industry.